Binging seems to be the business model for television and publishing now. TV show marketing makes us gladly lose sleep to get to a season finale, and books now seem to only come in trilogies. This appeal to the obsessive completist gets me thinking about binge-listening.
Summer is a great time to get through some of your bucket-list records. The complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler or the 111 recordings of Frank Zappa might be a bit heavy for the season, but we can still get to September being able to say we got to the end of an epic list.
Music collections and anthologies aren’t as big a deal as they were back when CDs were relevant, but labels once clamored to resell their catalogs in big collections. Or, if CDs aren’t your thing (and I wouldn’t blame you), there are always Spotify lists, which is great because no one has the power to release a definitive collection of, say, British art rock from the 60's and 70’s.
So what’s your binge? The 32 Beethoven piano sonatas? The Compleat Beatles? Someday for me it’ll be that comprehensive Deutsche Grammophon set of works by French Modernist Olivier Messiaen, but this summer it’ll be an exploration of Delta and Chicago blues like “Dimples” by John Lee Hooker, which is on a number of anthologies I can’t wait to get to.
Listen well, because when school resumes there will be an exam.
Little Junior’s Blue Flames, “Mystery Train,” (1953): Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock and Roll, (2015, 2 discs)
This is a collection of the producer who discovered Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and many others.
Bill Evans, “Minority,” Everybody Digs Bill Evans (1958), Bill Evans: The Complete Riverside Recordings (12 discs, originally released 1956-1963)
This recording is from 1958 - you can hear why Miles Davis hired him that year.